Native American leader believes Redskins have tried to discredit Ray Halbritter


The question of whether the Washington NFL franchise should continue to be known as “Redskins” continues to be an issue, in part because the team continues every Monday to publish “Community Voices,” a collection of messages supposedly from Native Americans or family members of Native Americans supporting the name.

The latest collection, Community Voices VI (Roman numerals make everything more official), comes a day the spiritual leader of the Six Nations suggested that the Redskins have been trying to find ways to undermine the efforts of Oneida Indian Nation representative Ray Halbritter by attacking him personally.

“I felt like they were looking for something, that they wanted me to discredit Ray, and I wasn’t going to go there,” Sid Hill told Sean Kirst of the Syracuse Post-Standard regarding a phone call Hill received from a representative of the team.  “The backlash Ray’s received is kind of scary,” Hill said.  “It’s like they’re trying to discredit the witness.”

“It is hardly surprising that the team marketing a racial slur against Native Americans is evidently working to further denigrate Native Americans with personal attacks,” Oneida Indian Nation Vice President for Communications Joel Barkin said in a press release.  “For all its rhetoric about respect, the team officials’ ugly tactics prove that they lack real respect for Native Americans.”

Hill, for his part, disagrees with the name.  He says the term is a taunt and an insult.  But the team’s increasingly sophisticated P.R. effort has found a way to twist opposition from Native American leaders like Sid Hill into a way to further support the ongoing use of the name.

“The conversation with Mr. Hill helped us to see how important it is to listen and respect the points of view of all people, even those who disagree with us,” team P.R. representative Tony Wyllie told the Post-Standard.  “We hope those who disagree with us will also be willing to listen and respect our point of view as well.”

That’s where the logic of the effort to keep the name begins to collapse.  Either the name falls within the realm of subjects on which reasonable minds may differ or it doesn’t.  And if the Redskins acknowledge that reasonable minds may differ on the question of whether the team’s name is offensive to Native Americans, some would say that’s enough to justify a change.

But the approach to dealing with seemingly reasonable opposition is to say, basically, “We hear you.  And we hope you hear us.  Because we’re not changing the name.”

That may work for the next few years.  At some point, however, the polls will show a level of opposition that can’t be ignored or shouted down or discredited.  The ongoing effort to support the name via weekly press releases likely represents an acknowledgement that, at this point, the only victory comes from delaying the inevitable as long as possible.

55 responses to “Native American leader believes Redskins have tried to discredit Ray Halbritter

  1. Anyone who knows the history of the Oneidas knows that the mascot of the Redskins is not a depiction of their tribe. And anyone who knows the history of the Redskins knows that the name is not racist but is in fact a tribute.

  2. Makes no sense to go after the Washington Redskins when there are plenty of reservation schools still using Redskins as their logo/mascot. I am Sioux and Ponca, I have never bothered by the name.

  3. I’m not sure whats worse…their weak defense or your incessant stories about the name…sheesh. The must be some other bleeding heart cause out there…save the children or the trees or something.

  4. I am offended by the early Asian immigrants co-opting the term “Native American.” I was born in North America, so I am just as much a native as Joel Barkin or Sid Hill.

  5. This country stole this land from the Native Americans!!! This country MURDERED them all and stole what was theirs. The Military Base I was born on, Ft. Huachuca Arizona was the headquarters for US troops to carry out this exact purpose. They forced the Africa American soldiers known as the Buffalo Soldiers to do their dirty work effectively oppressing two minority groups they hated and wanted dead to kill each other off. Once The United States Government publicly apologizes for this racial cleansing they enacted, this North American holocaust against the Native American People, All tribes, and repays them for what was stolen, killed, raped, and pillaged, then only then can they point fingers at The Washington Redskins NFL Football Team and cast judgement.
    Throughout American cinema our cultural racist views and offensive terms can be seen in the movies. The most offensive and derogatory terms used in all westerns, even the Great John Waynes films referring to Native Americans were :
    Chief, Savage, Kemosabe, Engine, and then Tonto… Never did they use Redskin.. These small tribes in Va causing this noise need to get in touch with their own culture, Because out here in San Diego California the place that has the highest number of Native American people and Tribes in the entire country, they refer to each other in an honorable way and with a sense of pride as SKINS! and REDSKINS!!! Go talk to Kansas City, their name is the true slur. If the Redskins were a peewee league Team with Zero media draw and zero net worth they would not be a target now would they?

  6. Doesn’t sound like the name is ever going to be changed until either they are forced to, or given a penalty for not doing so, or given an incentive to do so. Until somebody activates one of those 3 conditions the PR releases are all going to say the same thing.

  7. If the name needs to be changed so bad and they are so passionate about it why don’t they offer to buy up all the printed merchandise, pay for whatever it costs the team to change the name, and buy back all redskins fans jerseys or replace them with new jerseys with the new logo. It’s easy to sit back and say this name needs to be changed, it’s far more effective to put your money where your mouth is. I grew up in a highly native american area and none of them seemed to be offended by a local high school whose name was the redskins

  8. Why do some people keep on ignoring the fact that most Native Americans don’t have a problem with the name or don’t care because they have more important things to worry about?

  9. If the Redskins were playing the Cowboys who would Bob Costas root for? Who has done more to insult, pillage and kill Native Americans more than Cowboys?

  10. If the majority of Native Americans find the name offensive…than anybody who is non-native American and who justify the name is out of line.

    Like it or not we can’t speak on the history of Native Americans treatment in America and say ‘nothing wrong with the name.’

    And please stop comparing Apples to Oranges with the mascot of other teams…and if we change this name than we have to change that name.
    This is about the Washington Redskins and the fact that it’s long overdue to change the name and move on.

    It’s not the ‘PC Police’ it’s the fact that too many people find that word offensive and who are we to say that they are wrong if it is offensive in their culture.

  11. Redskin is not a racist term.

    Educate yourselves. Google “I am a Red-Skin” and “Ives Goddard” to learn the entomology of the word “Redskin.”

    Ives Goddard is/was the senior linguist in the department of Anthropology at the Smithsonian Institute.

  12. If you want it to be your name in San Diego so bad then you can have it. Let intelligent fans in Washington be free of this word from our vocabulary.

  13. The media is trying really hard to keep to this story in the news even though probably 90% of fans don’t really give a damm about it.
    This is mostly a media concocted story.

  14. So you’re saying that the PR GUY for a corporation /named after/ an Indian tribe that is monetarily benefiting from this story continuing agrees with his boss?? I’m shocked! Shocked, I say!

  15. All of this silliness over something as inconsequential as a name. But, since someone is offended and they are a minority, it behooves the rest of us to yield to them. So tell me, once the smoke clears and all of the silly people who are easily offended by mere words have nothing better to do, who will they go after next? Should the Washington team be pressured into changing their title, in what way will the lives of the offended be bettered?

    For the record, I am offended that people of a certain racial background are allowed to refer to themselves as “Native Americans”. I have no racial connection to them, but I am just as “Native” to North America as they are.

  16. In my opinion this issue is more indicative of how soft we’ve become as a nation. It’s been their name for what, 60 years and until recently it wasn’t an issue. You can offend someone by breathing wrong these days. Its ridiculous.

  17. The name isn’t offensive I haven’t heard anyone say OMG I’m not watching the Skins again because the name is offensive. OTOH I have heard many people say they aren’t them play anymore because watching them play last year was very offensive to their eyes.

  18. This is not going away.

    They can delay it a few more years, but eventually, they’re going to be pressured into changing it.

    I’m not going to debate the good or the bad of the Redskins name/brand, but they franchise would be better served by getting out in front of this and coming up with a well through out re-branding that the fans will be able to tolerate and eventually embrace.

  19. Im just glad the New England Patriot is a white guy. There are NO Patriots of other races.

  20. I know little Danny has discredited the notion of intelligent and competitive football. That’s offensive, too.

  21. I would like to invite Dan Snyder and the front office for the Washington Redslurs to come out to Browning MT for the “North American Indian Days” festival and tell the tens of thousands of full-blooded Native Americans assembled there that the term “redskins” is a statement of respect and admiration.

    The racial slur “redskin” is just one of the many slurs used to dehumanize Native American and justify the genocide of their people and the destruction of their cultures.

    It is absolutely sickening to watch these privileged white East Coast capitalists attempt to speak for the thousands of Native American tribes, and claim that a racial slur used by those who murdered Native Americans is a sign of respect. Disgusting. No excuse for that kind of racism in the 21st Century.

  22. What if the symbol was changed, not the name? Look at Texas Tech, they are called the Red Raiders, what could that possibly imply? No one says a word about TTU, but the implication is there. Its the emblem that hides the school from this issue. I’m not saying I know the background of TTUs nickname, but look at their location from a historical perspective and tell me the Red Raiders name is OK.

  23. This is just another example of 5% of the population expecting the world to be changed for what they find acceptable. At some point our country got so damn PC that we couldn’t tell the minorities (not just race, but minorities in general) that most of the country either wants it the other way or doesn’t care to have it changed and leave it at that?

  24. I’m offended that people are offended by a team’s nickname. I would think there are other more important things to worry about.

  25. I’m offended that Jim Haslett is still the Skins DC, There can’t be anything more offensive then that.

  26. Change the name to Washington Corruption and use an image of the building congress meets in for the logo.

  27. How about we remove “Washington” from the name, because the most offensive thing is Obama and his minions. Move the team to Arlington, VA. It’s a good choice because one, they won’t care about the name, two, the Cowboys are also located in a city named Arlington (hint hint), and three, the Ravens/their fans will stop whining about another team in Maryland! Your welcome! #HTTR #KeepTheName #ImpeachObama

  28. he libs who run this site just piss me off. Why can’t you mind your own business? The majority of “native” Americans could care less what that football team calls itself. I just hate the mindset that libs have to intrude and mettle in other’s business. Why don’t you cover a real story??

  29. who’s this Halbritter character who speaks of ll the native Americans. I am reading that there are,high schools around reservations that the mascots are called Redsikins.

    why not get theme changed first if that is fact, Then you might have a little credibility. If you can’t get that done, then just shut up already….

  30. Julius is anonymous because no one cares to find out who’s opinion it is. As someone born in Great Falls with Backfoot blood I can say I know MORE natives that are Fans of the Skins than I do that are offended detractors.. Wait I don’t know ANYONR who is OFFENDED except maybe Ray Halbritter and Mike Florio. I would venture to guess that YOU Julius are an opinionated white man. Are YOU offended? How does this football teams name create ANY obstacle in your life? In what way have you been negatively effected by the Redskins? It doesn’t and you haven’t, just like the rest of PC Americans its a LOOK at me POV. Aunt Jemima AND Mrs Butterworth are racist but I bet you don’t boycott breakfast do you?

  31. They’ve been the Redskins for over 60 years and nobody complained until the professional searchers for victims created a fuss. Why do so many people buy into this nonsense?

  32. What good does it do for The Skins to change their names? It’s not going to change any of the issues the Native Americans are dealing with.

  33. Hey Indians. Shut up and go away already. If you want to change the name, buy the team with your casino money and then you can change it. Otherwise, I’m tired of the whining.

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